NBA Street Volume 2


Review by Karl Krueger

EA Sports BIG


Graphics: 7

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

"I hate sports. I don't understand how people can watch them; they're BORING. And I don't get why people buy sports video games, either. There's a new one every year, it's like throwing away $50 a year."

-Me, circa 1998

I no longer have that mentality. It took a basketball game to snap me out of it, and that's a fact. A fact that makes my dad cracks up to this very day.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is the first sports game I really got into. And I mean really, REALLY got into. Tony Hawk 2 ruled my life for an entire winter, with its great arcade-style gameplay and unbelievable replay value. When NBA Street was released, it got comparisons to THPS from some magazines (Game Informer for one) because of its easy controls and combo system. I bought NBA Street after the GH release for dirt-cheap and tried it out. I was kinda bored. I couldn't get anywhere in the game because I never watched basketball, much less played it. I didn't know at the time that there would even be a sequel.

Well, obviously there was, and I played it on a Game Crazy demo kiosk for about 15 minutes. When I pressed start and heard the classic horn loop of "T.R.O.Y." by Pete Rock, my ears pricked up and took notice. When the loading screen showed me Bill Walton, I really took notice. I had heard many tales of this fellow, this favorite basketball player of my father. And the idea of playing with NBA legends appealed to my trivia-obsessed self, even though I didn't know more than half of them. The game grabbed me in its groove and with a hearty recommendation from Tim I bought the game.

I could not stop playing. I tried; I could not stop. First of all, any frustrations with learning how to play are immediately cleared up by the very good Street School tutorial mode. This game's brand of basketball earns another comparison to THPS: it's greatly simplified, just 3-on-3, first to 21 wins. Only rule is the 24-second shot clock. Your passes are always perfect, and shots go in very often. There are no fouls, so you can sit underneath the basket as Shaq and swat shots all day without being called for goaltending. You try and shake your defender with all kinds of crazy AND1 street ball moves, which are easily done by pressing Square and any combo of the shoulder buttons, driving to the basket for an equally showboating dunk, which is also enhanced with shoulder buttons. Defense is also no problem, switching players with X, attempting to steal with Square (no reach-in fouls!) and jumping up to block or grab a rebound with Triangle.

The shoulder buttons control a meter called the Turbo Meter. Each player has a limited amount of Turbo, which is used up as you use the shoulder buttons (it regenerates when you aren't). You string together handles and fake outs and try to end the show with an amazing dunk (or shot, but dunks give you a lot more points) to increase the Gamebreaker meter. The highly unique Gamebreaker meter, when full, lets you pull off a Gamebreaker shot, which, if it goes in, takes a point away from your opponent's score. Or, in a new Street 2 feature, you can pocket a full GB meter (with Select) and build up a 2nd one for a Level 2 Gamebreaker, a spectacular cinematic play that gives you 2 points and takes away 3 of your opponent's points (4 if you're behind the long-range arc). This is crucial to the game. This puzzle-game-like equalizer truly separates Street from the dozens and dozens of other NBA games. And, even with all that, if you want to make a 2-player game even you can turn Gamebreakers off.

2-player is, as with most sports games, unbelievable, but another area where Street 2 shines is 1-player. This game has many, many unlocks. 25 legendary NBA players ranging from the hugely famous (Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Dr. J) to the people only hardcore fans will recognize (Cousy, Baylor, David Thompson, Oscar Robertson) fictional street legends (including a few returning from the first game) legendary street courts (Rucker Park, Mosswood, The Cage) and more. You unlock these things in 2 modes: NBA Challenge and Be a Legend.

NBA Challenge has you taking on each team in the league region by region. Once you beat every NBA team in a region, you play a team of 3 legends from the region, unlocking them if you beat them. Be a Legend is your career mode. You create a baller (which could be better, but the graphics in this game aren't the best anyway) and build your reputation by winning pick-up games and tournaments (unlocking courts and street legends) and playing special challenge matches (No Gamebreakers, NBA Scoring, first to Level 2 Gamebreaker) until you reach the level of NBA Street Champion. After you beat these 2 modes and Street School, you unlock the final hidden player, which is a nice surprise.

I have played hundreds of pick-up games with the CPU and with friends. I'm still playing it today, and I'm getting more and more into basketball. Don't let that scare you away, however, because quite a few of my friends love the game even though they can't name more than 10 players including Jordan. If anything, the only people that might really dislike the game are really uptight basketball fiends that hate the way the game rewards showboating over good fundamentals.

NBA Street Volume 2 is an amazing game. It shattered my prejudice against sports games and televised sports and planted the seeds of a true appreciation for basketball in my head. I don't know if you'll dive headfirst into b-ball like I did, but I'm sure you'll enjoy the game.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:55 PM